Refusing to share media contact with clients

Dear All,

I have come across instances, when the agency refuses to share media contacts with the client. I believe this is absurd as being at the agency side for quite long time, I never thought that my strengths are only the media contacts that the agency has (getting media contacts probably is not that difficult, if one wants to compile). I always believed as an agency our strengths are the concepts and ideas that we collectively come up with to help the client right mileage in the media.

Refusing to sharing media contacts with the clients while on a contract I believe is unethical. This practice is not prevalent even in developed countries, where PR is practiced from decades.

I believe this is too childish, would be interested in knowing your views and how do you deal with this, if you are on the corporate side and incase you are on the agency side then how to do you react to such requests.

Your inputs will be highly appreciated.

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0 thoughts on “Refusing to share media contact with clients

  1. Freddy Castro Associate Vice President - Consumer Brands at Ketchum Sampark February 26, 2012 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    This is an absurd behaviour, I agree. It’s more like the Agency is seeking credit-points rather than taking a partnership perspective with the Client.

  2. Harshendra Verdhan Manager - Public Relations at Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited New Delhi February 26, 2012 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    Hey Vikram,

    Its a nice topic and of my choice too. well, i have came across several agencies where i had same exp but again the agency need to understand that its not only contacts which matter but the Trust & Bond with client what matters. YOu had to be transparent with client. If m in the industry from last 7years than at least i do know few imp people and if agency wont provide me i can get it from anywhere..the agency had a wider role to play n dey had to understand this fact. I just show the exit way to agency who acts like this and i think if a client is accepting such agencies than the client is having problems. If you are in the industry than its my job profile which says that i should have strong and active contacts with the media. By just restricting media contacts to itself agecny do a very childish act..PR is not just having media contacts information..its much more and above that..there is lott to say but i think this is in short which i wanna put forward…

  3. Sequencia Kharvi Asst. Manager Corporate Communications, Kohinoor Group, Mumbai February 26, 2012 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    Hi

    I also find this weird as the PR agency does not share the media contacts that they are to invite for events. The answer which I get usually is that “We are inviting everyone so there is no need to give the list”.

    Being in Corp Comm even we have our contacts and sharing the list helps to know if the journalist I have been in touch with is not left out.

    Also if we are organizing an event we have the rights to know which journalist are expected to come and most of the time it’s the senior management who would like to know this as they are the ones who are financing the event.

    Hope the PR agencies realize its better to work in co-ordination than individually.

  4. Priti Gandhi Manager at RPG Enterprises Mumbai February 26, 2012 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    Yes, I have faced that problem…where the agency doesn’t want to share media contacts.
    I completely agree with you Vikram that it is a very childish behaviour. Also in my view the agency and the organisation have to work as a team and not compete with each other.

  5. Archana Pradhan Account Director -- Ketchum Sampark Pvt Ltd. Mumbai February 26, 2012 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    I don’t think there is problem in sharing the media list with the client. By sharing the list you are just sharing the contacts and not your relationship

  6. Mitun Chakraborty Media Manager, UIDAI (Aadhaar), Guwahati Regional office Guwahati February 26, 2012 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    I think there is no harm to share contacts with the clients. This is a very poor mentality if someone refuses to do so. There should always be a mutual co-operation between clients and the agencies and i feel that its an effective way to produce better results.

  7. Tarunjeet Rattan at Nucleus ( Public Relations Division) Bengaluru February 26, 2012 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    Interesting answers. Just a thought…when you guys are faced with such a problem maybe it is time to delve and look at the larger issue wherein the reason why the agency is not comfortable with sharing this information with you. Am sure ‘showing them the door’ asap is one way of dealing with it and labelling them ‘childish’ is another way. But why not sit down and talk to them and assure them. They are also human beings and are plagued with teh same set of insecurities that any professional in any industry undergoes…. they are trying their best to survive in this cut throat competition. You might be good but you cannot guarantee that every client they have come across in the past has had the same good intentions.

    Usually, a heart to heart chat solves the problem. Have done this in the past and it works. You need to take the time to do this. After this if it it does not work then by all means end the association. But of you cannot take the time to build the trust then maybe both you and the agency are not suited for each other.

    Trust in a relationship has to be earned and worked upon from both ends. You cannot command something like this just because you are in a certain position…agency or client….

  8. Philip Joshua Corporate Communications Nagarjuna Construction Company Hyderabad February 26, 2012 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    Not sharing Media contacts smacks of insecrity by the agency.They feel that the client will develop a bond and organise Press conferences/Media releases directly.This behaviour of agencies is very unethical.The agency should work with the client and not for the client.

  9. Vikas Kamboj Associate Director at Indian Staffing Federation Noida Area, February 26, 2012 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    Agree with you. It seems that some agencies are stuck in some sort of time warp, where lists were the priced possessions. It just shows utter lack of sound knowledge about Public Relations as a profession. A consultancy, as you rightly said, is about ideas and the insights they bring on the table about the publics (where media holds the major share of the pie) who matter. Client and Agency should work as a team, as partners with regular cerebral exchanges, and not as rivals.

    Sharing of the contacts doesn’t mean that the relationships built over time will be passed on in an instance; if that’s what scaring such agencies. The contacts are not patented or classified information :)

  10. Kunal Karn PR, media relations and crisis communications New Delhi February 26, 2012 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    This is not good behavior of an agency that refuses to provide the contact list of journalist; it will not be a matter of insecurity for an agency as many of my friends has said. I worked for an agency who never says no to its clients when anyone has asked for a list. We many times provided beat wise media lists to our clients but we never faced any problem of being cornered by clients when organizing an event or press conference.

    May be PR agencies have to grow a bit from being just a media agencies and playing a role of coordinator between client and journalist. There are many roles that a PR agency can play for its clients.

  11. Aarif Malik Vice President at Madison Public Relations Mumbai February 26, 2012 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    Good topic and some very good thoughts. But why does the client want the media list? And what kind of details in the list? For me, I need answers to these two before I can opine on Vikram’s question. I’ve rarely refused to give away a media list. But those are the two questions I first ask my client. Why? Because then I know the purpose behind the request.

    There’s absolutely no problem in giving a list of media and journalist’s names. Such requests usually come around key events and initiatives, where the client is trying to ensure all relevant media and journalists are being targeted. However, asking for contact details in the list is a different ballgame altogether. I’ve given such lists as well, but then they’ve turned out to be an indicator of an unpleasant situation building up between the client and the agency. If the agency is under-delivering, then the agency has to buck up. But if the client is doing that despite no fault of the agency, then I for one usually feel a little insulted.

    However, that doesn’t stop me from giving contact details of media because I want the client to experiment himself / herself and realise that the agency has not been under-delivering. I’ve realised that once your client does this, you usually end up getting the client on your side. It may not give you a good feeling at the start, but then it does end up well for you. But please make sure that you HAVE been delivering results on your client.

    Let me give another dimension to this. In evolved PR markets, a media list is a chargeable item. I myself have charged as much as $500-$800 for media list creation / collation. So, to expect me to give it away for free is actually childish. A retainership fees entitles a client to a set of services, and media list is definitely not part of that. Its not a service, but an asset item. You use a media list to deliver a service to clients. We, in India, can end up giving a lot of things for free for various reasons, but technically speaking, media list is not a part of the fees. If the client wants the media list, it can be given for a price. If most of us choose not to charge for it is a different matter altogether.

    To those who may counter-argue that the client is entitled to the media list as part of the retainer fees, then let me say this — In that case, he’s entitled to every asset that you have, including your office, servicing staff, your laptops, PCs, mail servers, fax machines, scanners, and almost everything else in your office. Why? Because you use all that to provide PR services to him. And yes, it is NOT unethical not to share your assets. Childish? Yes. But unethical? No.

    But I do share my media lists with clients. Not because the client is entitled to it but because I know I have nothing to hide or be afraid. And that no one else can do the job better than me and my team…. ahem.

    But if you do have things to be afraid of and hide, then media list is the last thing you should be worrying about.

    Cheers!

  12. KHYATI MALHOTRA Marketing Commucations at Lacoste New Delhi February 26, 2012 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    Hi Vikram,

    I myself made a switch from agency to client few months ago. Hence I’ve had opportunity to understand the mindsets and expectations of both parties. Each day is a new learning experience.

    The client should credit the agency for being an ‘aid’ when building media relationships. However established/existing brands already have some media relationships and can always make more!

    An agency is a dedicated resource who needs to understand and educate clients about various media and recommend smarter innovative ideas to increase brand visibility delivering the right communication.

    In my experience each publication is positioned as a property with core values and preferences. An understanding of this nature is often lacking in the key account workers (executives/managers) of the
    agency.

    Such an understanding perhaps can be imparted from the seniors in the organization or perhaps even sourced from outside. Media Planners from media buying agencies have interesting insights about publications , these can be extremely useful in understanding how is Vogue different from an Elle and how Femina and Vogue can be extremely important publications falling in a clients top priority despite for varying circulation numbers. Alternatively for certain clients Women’s Era may be important and preferred publication as opposed to a Vogue! (Getting featured in these is another story altogether!)

    Having Salman Khan’s number won’t mean he would work in my movie! Phone numbers/Email ID’S only do so much …

    Warm Regards

  13. Gopal Kulkarni Owner, Madhyam PR Latur February 26, 2012 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    Hi ths actually depends on your equation, understanding and comfort level with the client. Some clients are really vety flexible and remain within their limits and give due credit to d pr guy even if they are in touch with the reporter directly but some are just the opposite. So it. Depends

  14. Rohan Sukhatankar Sr Manager Corporate Access, Institutional Equity at Edelweiss Securities at Edelweiss Capital Mumbai February 26, 2012 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    Well said Arif, I concur to your thoughts.

  15. Shivshankar Surkund February 26, 2012 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    Hi there,

    It is unfortunate that a PR agency has refused to share info.on its contacts with media.

    Suppose, the PR agency is closed on saturday, and client has some very important announcement to make, how they will do it effectively, if they do not have the contacts ?

    Monday may be too late and will not serve the pirpose.

    Therefore, all clients, when having appointment of PR agency, must have a condition to this effect.

  16. Media contacts are developed with a painstaking work over the years. The lists with personal numbers are properties of the agencies.
    The entire process of media relations depends on the contacts that the agency or client develops.
    Clients’ job becomes easier once they get the media lists with contact numbers.
    That’s where the sense of insecurity creeps in and in many cases clients do not renew their contracts with agencies once they get the lists from agencies.
    So, it’s not childish to refuse to give the detailed lists. If its not difficult to collate, clients can do so. Why depend on the agency for them?
    Please also look at the predicament of PR associates from centres where the agency does not have own offices. Associates have every right to refuse to give detailed lists.

  17. Deepika Gumaste Account Executive at Text 100 Global Public Relations Consultancy Mumbai February 26, 2012 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    I have one point to add, while it might seem a kiddish attitude, it is true.. that some corp comm people try to eliminate the PR agency and speak directly to the journalist… Now I am not generalizing…

    While there are some really nice corp comms, I have worked with, there are some people, who are in the business to play one-man up game with the agency…They want to create a relationship to such a level, so that the journalists start connecting with them directly.

    Now, I have no problem in journalists connecting directly with the client, but when you say it is a team-effort, doesn’t it apply to both the sides??

    Just a thought…

    Regards,

  18. You are bang-on Aarif. A client expects media lists only to ensure that all important media persons are invited at an event and if the contact details are not updated, it is mutually updated.

    Fortunately, I work with a good Agency who doesn’t suffer from all these hang-ups and insecurities. Life becomes a lot easier when the Agency team is on the same wave-length of the Corp Comm.

    Having said this, I am also aware of certain PR professionals in Corporate Communications who have a habit of requesting for a media list from the Agency just before they share the bad news of severing ties with the Agency. The problem here lies with the personal insecurities of the PR Professional and not the Organisation that he/she represents.

    There are bad apples in every basket.

  19. BN Kumar CEO - Concept PR Mumbai February 26, 2012 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    When you have a PR agency, let them do their media relations.
    Why question their bonafides by asking for media contacts?
    Some Corporates think media list can be generated at the press of a button! Its not so easy, friends, to compile a foolproof, sector specific list.
    Also, some corpcom people may develop the tendency of double checking with media using the list!
    Will any agency like this kind of policing?
    There could be cases of corpcom guys dictating agencies on talking to specific media which could turn out to be irritating.
    Hence, this defence for NOT sharing the list.

  20. Moyna krishna Srivastava Sr account executive at Weber Shandwick Mumbai February 26, 2012 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    Very well said Aarif … U have expressed the both the sides (the agency and the client ) beautifully. In my opinion the work of a comp corp is to have an understanding of the working of an agency and stand as a middle man between the comp n an agency.

    A CEO or HR don’t have the specialized knowledge and understanding of the media hence at time end up making difficult demands…the problem lies in d fact that ‘the man paying fr thr pocket want more fr paying less’ thrfore the comp corp being the comp man can pitch in and explain on one hand and other tighten the agency if they r at fault.

    Where as the question of sharing the media list come…its once personal choice. The comp corp should always continue to interact n build media relation on his/her own…n media cards can always be collected at conferences after all that where the agency get max contact (and that to wid mobile nos) hehehe…

  21. Tarunjeet Nucleus Public Relations Division February 26, 2012 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    Hi Vikram,

    This is a long debated question. I have been on both sides (client and agency) and understand the heartache that each one goes through on this issue every time a media list is in question. But I believe the agency can share the media list, as you rightly pointed out, it is not difficult to collate…with names and designations and landline numbers and cell numbers of people who are in constant touch with the
    client directly. However, we also need to understand the agency’s perspective. A lot of journalists trust the PR professionals with their cell numbers that are to be used only during emergencies and absolute desperate conditions.

    Somewhere, with aggressive clients this message , despite reiterations, is lost and they start getting calls for events for the CEOs son’s bday to a press conference wherein the client is trying to make a personal connect. This not only spoils the relationship of the journalist with the client but more so with the PR professional and the entire agency as a whole for all their clients.

    I think the PR professionals are fully justified in being selective about sharing cell numbers of journalists on their lists…rest can all be shared. The PR professional needs to exercise caution and discretion while doing this as they know their client best and should decide how much is to be shared with them…it is really unfair to be generalising these situations as it is often not as simple as just sharing “media lists”.

    Warm Regards,

  22. I totally agree with you Tarunjeet on the agencies being selective about sharing the contacts with all their clients. But if they are dealing with a reputed client and with experienced professionals, such practice should be discouraged. The relationship should be such that both the parties work towards a common goal.

  23. Tarunjeet Nucleus Public Relations Division February 26, 2012 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    Hi vikram,

    Agree.

    That’s why the agency needs to use their discretion based on the individual client. It has to be a case by case decision and cannot be a blanket rule on sharing or non sharing of media lists.

  24. Anurag Bhatt, Sr. Manager - Client Services at Goodword Media Services Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi February 26, 2012 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    Hello All…

    Its a nice topic to be debated but a lot has been clearly told by both sides… I am in sync with Tarunjeet and completely agree & respect the views of Aarif. I too have experienced similar instances in the past and have responded in similar fashion like Aarif. Yes, it depends on client-to-client and their needs for the hour. There is no harm in sharing the list since the contact details are easily obtainable by anyone and especially for a client. Yet there are a few pros-n-cons.

    Agency has the right whether to share or not the list, and it would never be unethical.

    I want to ask some questions like why does a client not share his exact schedule for a given week or month, why the marketing or promotional plans are not shared in detail at the time of conceptualization, why everything from the client’s end comes to the agency only at the time of execution…the list has more and the answer is just one… “all these are important & confidential things and will be shared soon. We’ll let you know when to start..”

    Everything on client’s part is confidential and selective but the agency has to share everything…??? Why…isn’t the agency a strategic partner, working for the client building platforms & strengthening brand image…every single moment… or… is the PR agency considered just a Vendor fulfilling the communication wishes of clients at their sole discretion..??

    Everything is based on the level of trust between the two – Clients & the agency. Just for a couple of words of appreciation by client, agency & its representatives work tirelessly on their toe-nails and stood up-front resolving any given crisis situation….PR is Public Relation – a PR agency works to spread information on a client to the masses/ public through various communication channels, create awareness on the client’s activities/ initiatives and build, establish & strengthen the brand image of the client. While doing so, a lot of documentation is done by the agency. It is called the creative work with a copyright of the agency and is always shared with the client. A media list is always shared along with the PR Plan but usually without mentioning the name & contact details of the media. The client may ask for those details but it depends on the sole discretion of the agency whether to share it or not. However, on certain instances like the spokesperson is travelling and there is an urgent interaction to be conducted or at crisis situations, the agency readily shares all the relevant contact details since the agency works for client’s benefit and do what is required for achieving that. Moreover, during media interactions there is always exchange of cards between the client & the journo. Agency never intervenes in that and in fact feels proud when a strong bonding develops between client & media. It really helps a lot during crisis and also during review meetings.

    Furthermore, if a contract between the agency & client expires and unfortunately isn’t renewed, then the entire work on the client is compiled & shared with the client….just like a handover formality. Media list is never mandatory to be shared then as well.

    The very existence of a PR agency depends on the documentation & media contacts. If a client wants the detailed media list so as to touch- base directly, then why would an agency communicate info on client’s behalf. In such a case, the client should hire 3-4 people for Corp comm team, do communication on its own and hire a coverage tracking agency for preparing reports. There is no need for an agency….

    Thanks & Regards

  25. Manauti Walecha, Senior Manager – PR, 33 Public Relations, Kaushambi, Ghaziabad (UP) February 26, 2012 at 7:30 pm - Reply

    Hi!

    I totally agree with everyone that we, as PR guys (from agencies) usually are not interested in sharing the media contacts with our clients out of insecurity, bonding with the journalists and for may be many more reasons. But I am sorry to say that it doesn’t happen only with the PR agency people but also with the corp. comm. guys just because they want to prove/justify their endeavours to their CMDs, CEOs and big names in the company.

    So I think, that PR agencies are not the ONLY ones to be blamed; the relationship should be such that a client and agency work as a team and not as individuals representing the same company and they should not run after the credit of the work done by them.

    Apologies, if anybody felt offended.

    Regards,

  26. Sourav Das, Corporate Affairs & Communications, CAIRN INDIA February 26, 2012 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    I have been reading this topic closely. Really interesting!

    To introduce myself I represent the corporate communication function. I also spent a considerable amount of time in the PR & Advertising industry.

    I completely understand where some of my PR colleagues are coming from when they vote for holding back data – which ever way it is justified.

    My I now introduce a scenario where the Corporate Communication team is built with Ex-Agency professional. In such a scenario – will an Agency be able to insulate such databases?

    After all agency way of database building can be introduced in CC departments too. If Agency declines – CCD teams do it themselves – at the end of it there is bad blood that remains. Idea of asking an agency is to ease the process. I completely agree database is not equal to relationship. So my friends we should shed insecurity and focus on the core – building images (for clients and for ourselves).

    But I do agree one needs to use judgement as to whom they are sharing database. It should be shared with people who knows the PR etiquettes, sensitivities and fine nuances of this profession. All CCD folks are not the same.

    Saying that I have a confession to make my team comprises of 100% ex agency guys :)

    You know what I mean. If someone denies us – we role our sleeves and find it out……

    Let us continue to deliberate on this topic. Look forward to views from all across.

    Have a great Sunday :)

  27. Nayna Banerjee, Head Corporate Communications at Rabo India Finance Limited February 26, 2012 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    This is surprising; generally agencies are okay to share the contacts. If having a list is the only strength a agency has………..time my friend to look for the next one

  28. Kavita Kapoor, Communications Professional at GlobalHunt India February 26, 2012 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    I agree with Nayna. Ideally, it should not happen but if it is happening, this is because most of the PR firms are still zeroing in on media contacts as their core strength. The company will anyways need services of a PR firm even if it has all media contact details.

  29. Hariom Tyagi, Chief Operating Officer at Via Media & Communications February 26, 2012 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    I must say that, this PR agency is completely insecure and does not understand that media contacts is not at all a big deal. A PR agency should play upon media innovations, finding opportunities rather than protecting media contacts.

  30. Ganapathy Viswanathan, General Manager - 2020 MSL, Mumbai February 26, 2012 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    It is unfortunate that PR is still driven based on media relations and not on content.I agree that its not rocket science to get the contacts. Normally if the client has a good friendly and cordial relations with the agency this should not be a problem. If the agency is operating with media relations as their core offering then I would call them as media relation outfit and not PR specialist or consultants.

  31. Viktoria Mykhno, Head of PR at Platinum Bank, Ukraine February 26, 2012 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    Unfortunately, it is common practice especially in Ukraine. Though I do agree that it is childish and the value of PR agencies definately lies not in media contacts…

  32. Eswari Kalugasalam, Independent Corporate Communications Professional, Malaysia February 26, 2012 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    Yes there are some agencies who refuse to share media contacts. Having been in the corporate side , I think the refusal is due to the lack of confidence that a client might not need to engage the services of the agency if the client gets to know the media. To be fair to the agency, clients should inform the agency of any interactions that they have with the media especially if the agency is on a retainer.

  33. Anshuman Chakravarty, Corporate Communication & Brand Management practitioner, New Delhi February 26, 2012 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    “Every effort has a value and a price- even collecting media database”, though I have never worked on an agency side, I can imagine how difficult it is to even get email ids of some mediamen. From a client side if you ensure a “contract” which enables you to get media contacts, I think that’s the best way forward. Dont expect anything for free!

  34. Florence Obura, Corporate Communications Manager at KPLC, Kenya February 26, 2012 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    Getting media contacts is as easy as looking them up on the Internet, etc., or calling up the media house and just asking for the info. After all media relies heavily on the public for information, and therefore this is welcome. However, building relationships with specific media personalities is the difficult part, and largely depends on individual skills and inter-personal abilities. Not all corporate communications people have this.

  35. Chet Wade, Managing Director, Corporate Communications at Dominion, Richmond, Virginia February 26, 2012 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    I agree with Florence. The value is in the relationship — as well as understanding what each media member and outlet finds interesting/valuable. A media list is like a lump of clay. You can find them anywhere. What matters is how the artist works it. Good communications are artists at defining a good pitch. I am on the corporate side, but I would not have a problem sharing contact lists with a client if I were on the agency side.

  36. Hanks LEE, Assistant Corporate Communications Manager at A.S. Watson Group (A Hutchison Whampoa Company), Hong Kong February 26, 2012 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    Yes Florence is right. Contact and bonding are 2 different things, it takes not long to compile the contact list but might take years to develop the bonding. While agency probably see that as an asset of their firm, that’s a perfectly valid opinion to refuse releasing “their” contacts. But, I doubt whether it helps them to build good relationship (and business) with clients. Projects come to an end but relationship does not, there’re always the next opportunities laying ahead.

  37. Owuoche Elizabeth, Associate Account Director - Silver Bullet PR, Kenya February 26, 2012 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    I would not use the word “childish” in this case. There could be many reasons why we do not share contact including protecting the client from unethical journalists who may try to extort money or favors. But as you said, compiling a list is not difficult and we do not discourage clients from collecting cards and reaching out to the media on their own. Further we organise for media forums for one-on-one interaction. But at the end of the day as a PR consultant I would like to have the upper hand, I want the client to come to me! I want the journalist to call me to set up opportunities with the client, I need to protect my role as the middleman.

  38. Nisha Khetan Co-founder and Partner, Cubic Communication Mumbai February 26, 2012 at 7:37 pm - Reply

    Hi Vikram, I do think it is strange that the agency outright refuses to share contacts , getting a phone number or email id is probably the easiest thing to do these days. I would however, even as a part of corporate communication team , would be hesitant in sharing mobile numbers. Most journalists share the mobile numbers with the trust of it not being misused and circulated.
    It takes a very long time to build comfort level with a journalist and even if the client calls directly and if there is a problem – it can result in my equation being spoiled.
    As far as possible- I won’t share mobile numbers- if that is your criteria for sharing contacts.
    Also a lot of times, sharing a media list means too much interference from the client- selection of names etc. Judgement call on who is the right contact inside a publication should be left with the person who is executing the task.

  39. Abha Azad Communication Strategy Specialist: Head - Account Management at Finese PR New Delhi February 26, 2012 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    Sharing a media list in totality is an issue. It isn’t that creating a media list is rocket science – it is one of the first things that is undertaken for any client in a PR consultancy and is at max a week long process – If we are looking at a nation-wide list – with coordinates that need to be checked and rechecked.

    The issue is: why it is required by a client at all if it is working with a consultancy? If you have several points of contact, the media relations activity by itself becomes a problem. If the client starts to approach the media on its own, which I presume is why he/she is asking for the list, then an external/independent Consultancy is seen as an extraneous body which will delay the “response time”. I mean “why approach them if I have direct contact!!!”, would be the typical thought process of the media.

    However, most of the time it is not something as basic as this. A list gives no details – It is just a list… So the list could have names of 10 people from the same publication – each with different interests/focus. The Consultancy’s core competence is sharing relevant data with the relevant journalist to optimise visibility. Now if the client was sending the information and the consultancy was not, there would be no issue – but if both are – the flack from the media is taken by the Consultancy and it is not funny at all.

    Most often that not, we share names and coordinates of relevant media with the client. The client also exchanges cards and is usually in touch with select media on a one to one basis but not for all basic media needs all the time.

    The main problem is that the “mis-use” of the list causes issues and the Consultancy is brought in to undertake massive amount of “fire fighting” for completely avoidable issues.

  40. Muyiwa Akande Media Manager at Mediacraft Associates Limited Nigeria February 26, 2012 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    I really don’t see anything odd in sharing media contacts with clients. The demon is always in the details, the popular saying goes. I believe media relations is an integral part of PR but it is not all of it. As PR consultants we need to constantly raise the bar in areas like strategy development, cutting-edge advisory services, creatively “distruptive” ideas, et al. Even if the client has all d media contacts, he will still need our services if we develop competencies in the above mentioned areas.

  41. Derwin Johnson, Executive Coach - Media Consultant at Derwin Johnson Consulting, Greater St. Louis February 26, 2012 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    The idea that you wouldn’t share media contacts with the client is absurd. The PR practitioner’s job is to meet the client’s business objectives in any ethical way possible, and sharing contacts falls into that category.

  42. MARILDE MOTTA, Owner, AD PERSONAM, Milan Area, Italy February 26, 2012 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    In Italy, to share media contacts with clients is normal, clients must be aware of what kind of media and journalists you are contacting to accomplish your assignement. The problem is the use some companies do of the media lists you have built for them, because behind a simple list of names there is a relashionship. The true value is just the relationship, that in some cases is a friendship nursed for years. So sometimes it could arrive that clients put aside the PR agency and go on by themselves in contacting journalists. This arrives more often than you can imagine. It is almost impossible to prevent clients from this unfair behaviour, What to do with journalists?

  43. Dennis Taraporewala, Director & Co Founder at CRIESSE Communications, Mumbai February 26, 2012 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    Dear Vikram,

    I am sure your mobile number is in some database somewhere (where you have given consent for that data to be captured) for example a designer boutique or a hobby or passion. Now what if those people were to suddenly share your details with their strategic partners (whom they would have signed a contract with). Would you like that?

    Similarly most senior journalists and editors, share their mobile numbers (home addresses and other details) with me in confidence and they remain with the agency in confidence (and even within the agency with a few trusted people only). The client has no business to ask for these details. If the client insists, I have to get consent from each person on the database to get their details – and I simply do not have time to do that.

    Agencies have their strengths, specialisations and core competencies and clients have theirs. Each should play to their strengths, instead of trying to replicate each other. Databases have to be protected; not mindlessly shared. Imagine if I were to ask my client to share all his customer details with us – would he? Imagine if Credit Card companies gave away all their databases to the airline companies they have partnerships with?

    Things swing both ways and respect has to be both ways – agency to client and client to agency; but we forgtet the third party journalists and content creators – the key. We need to respect their privacy and value those relationships too.

  44. Very well said Sourav. I completely agree with your thoughts. But what is the scenario where CCD people are from marketing background and doesn’t understand PR well. They don’t understand the sensitivities here.

    We face many of such client who come up with the most irrational demands without giving it a second thought.

    They expect PR team to perform as per their words and marketing words cannot judge PR role.

  45. Came across this post slightly late but updated with comments. Having been a business reporter, worked in PR agency and Corp Comm function for 20 years now with last three years as an independent consultant – this subject constantly evokes strong discussions. With my experience on all three sides of the table and now an independent consultant – am happy to share media nos with clients or other PR professional from other towns for Hyderabad – its about relationship, numbers & mail ID are incidental in the process. Sometimes, it gets irksome when the client tries to act smart and call journalist directly to check if got the invite or press release and shout on the agency but by and large evolved clients to trust and partner with PR agency would not resort to this – unless relationship between agency and client moves from vendor to partner – this issue will continue to bother everyone. For this to happen, both sides need to mature and function of communication needs to evolve and PR professionals need to lot of PR for themselves and profession in the process – something I have learnt in last 20 years…

    The role of media relations is also changing in the last 12 years, I have been associated with the PR & Corp. Comm. function. In my PR agency avatar, use to find this “hold on to your media list as IPR” attitude very sickening having moved from a journalist role since that is the easiest to source but you tend to align with the agency rules but as i grew in the hierarchy and went to the Head the South operations – passed a diktat to make the list comprehensive and move beyond numbers & mail ID – understand the journalist, his background, his interests and go beyond the client-reporter-agency relationship and start earning his trust. This takes times especially with senior guys since you need to know/understand the sector/industry the client operates, updates & trends in the same and be ready to share beyond client information only. This requires a lot of reading and understanding of the sectoral issues and developments and willingness to work with the reporter. The other dimension is about the ability to partner with client in updating him about the story angles the reporter or publication is exploring to be able to support with industry information and not just client updates. Also, here the relationship with journalist, his previous stories, his knowledge level on the industry/company is handing when interactions are fixed with senior management to avoid unpleasant situation of having a rookie meet CEO..

    Today, am not working on pure media relations alone BUT work as a COMMUNICATION STRATEGIST or SUTRADHAR of all communication needs of the clients. From advertising, CSR & Stakeholder Engagement, Social Audits, Annual Reports – content & design of cover and report, CSR Annual Reports, writing blogs, Crisis Communication and developing manual to handle issue management, networking with VC/Angel Funds to raise monies, website design and content, marketing collaterals – brochures, flyers, corporate films and INFOGRAPHIC videos now to digital media as well. While I work with independent vendors across many of these domains – am the single window for the client stitching all these tools at different points of time irrespective of the medium used to developing SOCO and ensuring continuity of communication.

    With clients spread from energy generation in 3 states with 4000 MW; clinical research, digital marketing, realty to pure play IT in Education & Training and CSR Foundation – am trying to work as a SUTRADHAR for clients communication needs partnering with independent vendors. The role of media relations is changing and expectations are also moving along in line with the user generated content (UGC) from social media.

    SEEK ADVISE/INPUTS: Was stumped with some media houses arguments over last 2 days in Hyderabad with one of my client’s employees contributing one-day salary to Uttarakhand relief operations. This was given to Ramakrishna Mission and not the PM OR CM Relief Fund and a brief press release with a small picture of the brief interaction and cheque handing over ceremony was shared with local media – 3 days back without a single news clip. Some of the reasons for zero coverage was that the contribution was to Ramakrishna Mission and NOT PM/CM Relief Fund???? Can anyone in this group of professional PR enlighten me if there is a change in process of issuing press release or media relations. Since many of them are my contemporaries when I was a journalist till 2001 – AM looking for answers…

    Cheers!!

  46. Majority of PR agencies (those who are in semi-urban areas) has this practice of not sharing the media list with their clients. On one side, they feel it is their copyright to act & deal with media on behalf of their clients whereas in another way, it is a good practice as exposing clients to media can invite unforseen troubles to them since clients, usually try to interact with media, without understanding media’s perspective and not keeping PR agencies in loop of activities can avoid lot of confusion. Many a times, the journalist / press reporter gets confused while dealing with the information as inputs provided by PR agencies are more precise than information provided by clients however the confusion arises as to whom to rely for accuracy. As far as media interaction is concerned, a single-point contact is often the best way to deal with media. A PR guy is in better position since he understands the exact pulse of journalist, his promptness in replying to queries and understanding of media deadlines is good and his follow-up activity is prompt.

  47. Hey Vikram,

    Thank you for bringing this view so strongly. Even I think the same way. Of course media relation is a part of PR but not the entire PR. We can get the coverage few times on the basis of the relationship but without good concept, strategy and USP of the client to be brought forward; it will be a short run. However I have personally made good relations with the journalists, whom I was not friends with earlier, on the basis of good concept and strategy. While sharing the media query we at lifespurple share the profile of the publication along with the name and designation of the journalist. I think PR in India is still a kid and needs to be taken good care with right guidelines and we have to take the initiatives by at least following the right path and way in our PR agencies…

  48. Hi Vikram,
    What you have said is very true, this is the basic insecurity of all PR agencies in the country.

    I have been on the BD side of most PR agencies in the country as an Independent external consultant for over 25 years.

    My experience says if any client has a true and news worthy story to tell they do not need any PR agency, the Corpcom team can manage !

    Kumar. Independent BD consultant to Ad and PR agencies.

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